PP18: The Historical Events Leading Up to 70 AD (Part 2)


This is now the eighteenth post in our series on “A Partial-Preterist Perspective on the Destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.” This is the same title as a term paper I recently submitted to Northwestern College. All the previous posts can be found here, and it’s recommended that they be read in order before reading this post:

[1] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/brief-explanation-of-partial-preterism/
[2] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/pp2-references/
[3] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/pp3-external-evidence-for-an-early-date-revelation/
[4] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/pp4-internal-evidence-for-an-early-date-revelation-part-1/
[5] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/pp5-internal-evidence-for-an-early-date-revelation-part-2/
[6] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/pp6-internal-evidence-for-an-early-date-revelation-part-3/
[7] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/pp7-internal-evidence-for-an-early-date-revelation-part-4/
[8] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/pp8-daniels-70-week-prophecy-part-1/
[9] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/15/pp9-daniels-70-week-prophecy-part-2/
[10] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/15/pp10-jerusalems-destruction-foretold-in-the-olivet-discourse/
[11] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/15/pp11-did-jesus-come-in-70-ad-part-1/
[12] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/15/pp12-did-jesus-come-in-70-ad-part-2/
[13] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/16/pp13-signs-of-the-close-of-the-age/
[14] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/16/pp14-abomination-of-desolation/
[15] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/16/pp15-the-man-of-lawlessness-ii-thess-2-part-1/
[16] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/16/pp16-the-man-of-lawlessness-ii-thess-2-part-2/
[17] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/16/pp17-the-historical-events-leading-up-to-70-ad-part-1/

In the previous post we turned to a discussion of the historical events which led up to Jerusalem’s destruction in 70 AD. In the first post we saw a timeline of these events, beginning with the martyrdom of James, the brother of Jesus, in 62 AD. In this post we will first briefly consider some of the predictions of Daniel, before moving on to examine some of these historical events in more detail.

Adam Maarschalk

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G. The Historical Events Leading Up to 70 AD (Part 2)

Before enumerating some of the above events in more detail, it should be pointed out that some Preterists believe that the time references in Daniel of 1290, 1335, and 2300 days (Daniel 8:13-14; 12:11-12) found their fulfillment in the siege and destruction of Jerusalem and the desolation of all Israel. This is not least because Daniel was told that “when the shattering of the power of the holy people comes to an end” all the wonders he had seen would be finished (Daniel 12:6-7). Even though a large portion of chapter 11 speaks in detail of Antiochus IV Epiphanes (215-164 BC), ruler of the Seleucid realm, and his attacks on Egypt about 240 years earlier,[1] it was the events of the Roman/Jewish War (67-73 AD) which epitomized “the shattering of the power of the holy people.”[2]

Also, as Ed Meelhuysen (1992), a Futurist, points out, precisely three lunar years transpired between the defiling of the temple (the sacrifice of a pig on the altar and the setting up of a statue of Zeus in the temple) on 25 Chislev 167 BC[3] and the cleansing and restoration of the temple by Judas Maccabees and other zealous Jews on 25 Chislev 164 BC. Therefore, the time range within which these (and other related) events took place falls short of all the time references in Daniel by at least six months.

Preterists and Futurists alike agree that Daniel does foretell Jerusalem’s destruction, if nowhere else, then at least in his pivotal 70-Weeks prophecy (Daniel 9:26b). Preterists would maintain that the “time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time” (Daniel 12:1) also refers to 67-70 AD, as does the reference to “a time, times, and half a time” (verse 7),[4] and the reference to the regular burnt offering being taken away (Daniel 8:11-14, 12:11). Regarding this offering, Philip Mauro quotes the following from Josephus to show that it was taken away at the very end of the final siege on Jerusalem, i.e. late July 70 AD (Todd Dennis [21], 2009):

And now Titus gave orders to his soldiers that were with him to dig up the foundations of the tower of Antonia, and make a ready passage for his army to come up, while he himself had Josephus brought to him; for he had been informed that, on that very day, which was the seventeenth day of Panemus, the sacrifice called ‘the daily sacrifice’ had failed, and had not been offered to God for want of men to offer it; and that the people were grievously troubled at it (Wars, VI. 2.1.).[5]

John Denton, of the UK-based Bible Research and Investigation Company, offers the following chart in an effort to show that these time references played out precisely as stated in the Jewish/Roman War (Todd Dennis [18], 2009):[6]

SN850132

George Peter Holford, in his 1805 book titled “The Destruction of Jerusalem,” wrote that Nero was the one who appointed Vespasian (assisted by his son, Titus) to prosecute the war against the Jews (Todd Dennis [8], 2009). In early spring 67 AD, which was 3.5 years before Jerusalem’s final downfall, Vespasian first entered Judea with a 60,000-member army. In the campaign which was to follow he destroyed at least 150,000 inhabitants of Galilee and Judea, along with many towns. One of the first towns Vespasian crushed was Joppa, because its inhabitants had provoked his men by their frequent piracies at sea. The Jews there tried to flee from Vespasian on their ships, but Vespasian was helped by a tremendous storm that blew in just as they began to flee. Their vessels were crushed against each other and against the rocks, and when this slaughter was complete more than 4,200 bodies were strewn along the coast and a very long stretch of the coast was stained with blood.

Eusebius records that when Vespasian began to close in on Jerusalem, believers living there received a sign, “given by revelation to those in Jerusalem who were ‘approved,’ bidding them leave the doomed city and settle in Pella” (F.F. Bruce, 1983, p. 375). Pella was a community on the other side of the Jordan River in modern day Jordan. This perhaps calls to mind the sign of the woman and the dragon in Revelation 12: “…and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days; And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. But the woman was given two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time” (Rev. 12:6, 13-14). Pella is indicated by the number “2” on the map.

HolyJordanMap

Vespasian pulled back in his campaign to take over Jerusalem when he was informed of Nero’s death in June 68 AD. Yet the people there did not repent of their wicked ways and instead, as Josephus and Tacitus reported in detail, their evil deeds increased. Civil war among the Jews resulted in thousands being murdered at a time, their bodies often left unburied. Holford writes about one such slaughter:

Athirst for blood, and inflamed by revenge, they spared neither age, sex, nor infancy; and the morning beheld eight thousand five hundred dead bodies lying in the streets of the holy city. They plundered every house, and having found the chief priests Ananius and Jesus, not only slew them, but, insulting their bodies, cast them forth unburied. They slaughtered the common people as unfeelingly as if they had been a herd of the vilest beasts… Such as fled were intercepted and slain: their carcasses lay in heaps on all the public roads: every symptom of pity seemed utterly extinguished, and with it, all respect for authority, both human and divine.

At the same time, there were bands of robbers and murderers plundering towns and homes throughout Judea, also not sparing even women or children. Simon, son of Gioras, the commander of one of these bands, entered Jerusalem and began a third faction in addition to the two who were already engaged in senseless warfare. The city was in anarchy, as it was divided into three sections under the following leaders: [1] Eleazar, the son of Simon, leader of the Zealots [2] John of Gischala, a Galilean partisan and Zealot leader [3] Simon Gioras, leader of the priestly party. Writes Holford:

The three factions, rendered frantic by drunkenness, rage, and desperation, trampling on heaps of slain, fought against each other with brutal savageness and madness. Even such as brought sacrifices to the temple were murdered. The dead bodies of priests and worshippers, both natives and foreigners were heaped together, and a lake of blood stagnated in the sacred courts. John of Gischala, who headed one of the factions, burnt storehouses full of provisions ; and Simon, his great antagonist, who headed another of them, soon afterwards followed his example. Thus they cut the very sinews of their own strength. At this critical and alarming conjuncture, intelligence arrived that the Roman army was approaching the city.

In the absence of believers in Jerusalem, Josephus writes of many rampant and callous evil acts taking place (Todd Dennis [13], 2009). These included sacrilegious activities taking place in the temple, committed by the Jews, things which even the Roman emperors wouldn’t have done:

But as for John [one of the Jewish leaders], when he could no longer plunder the people, he betook himself to sacrilege, and melted down many of the sacred utensils, which had been given to the temple; as also were many of those vessels which were necessary for such as ministered about holy things, – the caldrons, the dishes, and the table; nay, he did not abstain from those pouring-vessels that were sent them by Augustus and his wife; for the Romans emperors did ever both honour and adorn this temple; …on which account he emptied the vessels of that sacred wine and oil which the priests kept to be poured on the burnt-offerings, and which lay in the inner court of the temple, and distributed it among the multitude, who, in their anointing themselves and drinking, used [each of them] above an hin of them; and here I cannot but speak my mind, and what the concerns I am under dictates to me, and it is this: – I suppose that had the Romans made any longer delay in coming against these villains, the city would either have been swallowed up by the ground opening upon them, or been overflowed by water, or else been destroyed by such thunder as the country of Sodom perished by, for it had brought forth a generation of men much more atheistical that were those that suffered such punishments; for by their madness it was that all the people came to be destroyed.

This description by Josephus may perhaps bring to mind the latter part of Revelation 6:6, which says, “…do not harm the oil and wine!” In a way that is reminiscent of this same passage (Rev. 6:5-6), Josephus writes of the dire conditions that came about in Jerusalem due to famine. This escalated when the Romans finally broke through two of the three walls which surrounded the city. Even while under siege, the pitiful situation of the Jews caused them to turn on each other in almost unthinkable ways:

It was now a miserable case, and a sight that would justly bring tears into our eyes, how men stood as to their food, while the more powerful had more than enough, and the weaker were lamenting [for want of it]; …insomuch that children pulled the very morsels that their fathers were eating out of their very mouths, and what was still more to be pitied, so did the mothers do as to their infants; and when those that were most dear were perishing under their hands, they were not ashamed to take from them the very last drops that might preserve their lives: and while they ate after this manner, yet were they not concealed in so doing; but the seditious everywhere came upon them immediately, and snatched away from them what they had gotten from others; for when they saw any house shut up, this was to them a signal that the people within had gotten some food; whereupon they broke open the doors, and ran in, and took pieces of what they were eating almost up out of their very throats, and this by force: the old men, who held their food fast, were beaten; and if the women hid what they had within their hands, their hair was torn for so doing; nor was there any commiseration shown either to the aged or to the infants, but they lifted up children from the ground as they hung upon the morsels they had gotten, and shook them down upon the floor. But still they were more barbarously cruel to those that had prevented their coming in, and had actually swallowed down what they were going to seize upon, as if they had been unjustly defrauded of their right. They also invented terrible methods of torments to discover where any food was, and they were these to stop up the passages of the privy parts of the miserable wretches, and to drive sharp stakes up their fundaments; and a man was forced to bear what it is terrible even to hear, in order to make him confess that he had but one loaf of bread, or that he might discover a handful of barley-meal that was concealed.

Holford remarks that Jesus was just in His words when He said, “And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days” (Matthew 24:19). Josephus also told of one mother who roasted her own infant son and ate half of him, offering the other half to her neighbor. He mentions at one point seeing more than 600,000 dead bodies thrown out of the city gates, due to famine and other causes. It was common for whole families to perish, he said, and tomb-robbing was also rampant. At one point an individual attempted to desert the city, but he was caught with gold that he had swallowed in an attempt to smuggle it out. Suspecting that others were trying to do the same, the Romans killed and ripped open the stomachs of more than 2000 individuals in one night. Josephus (Jewish War 5:13:4) writes that some escaped from Jerusalem during the final siege by jumping from the wall and fleeing to the Romans. However, being extremely ravaged by famine, they failed to restrain their appetites and quickly ate so much that they literally caused their bodies to burst open.

The starvation in Jerusalem was especially severe because so many Jews from the countryside foolishly tried to take refuge there, against the advice of Jesus (Luke 21:21). They also had come up from various nations for the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The famine grew so bad that, records Holford, the “Jews, for want of food were at length compelled to eat their belts, their sandals, the skins of their shields, dried grass, and even the ordure [dung] of oxen.” When a woman was discovered to have eaten half of her own child, the Roman soldiers were horrified and “the whole city stood aghast, and poured forth their congratulations on those whom death had hurried away from such heartrending scenes.” Josephus declared that if there had not been many credible witnesses of this event he would not have recorded it because “such a shocking violation, never having been perpetuated by any Greek or barbarian, the insertion of it might have diminished the credibility of his history.” Yet these things fulfilled what was spoken by Moses at the end of giving the Law to the people, when he stated what would happen if they forsook the path of obedience:

The man who is the most tender and refined among you willbegrudge food to his brother, to the wife he embraces,and to the last of the children whom he has left, so that he will not give to any of them any of the flesh of his children whom he is eating, because he has nothing else left,in the siege and in the distress with which your enemy shall distress you in all your towns. The most tender and refined woman among you, who would not venture to set the sole of her foot on the ground because she is so delicate and tender, will begrudge to the husband she embraces, to her son and to her daughter, her afterbirth that comes out from between her feet and her children whom she bears, because lacking everything she will eat them secretly, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemy shall distress you in your towns (Deut. 28:54-57).

In the weeks leading up to the final five-month siege on Jerusalem the Romans used engines called “ballistas” equipped with strong catapults which were capable of launching boulders weighing between 75-160 pounds in weight. According to Josephus, when the assault first began these boulders, some a quarter mile wide, could be seen coming because they were white in color. The Romans soon modified them to be black in color, and the slaughter of the Jews in this way became much more effective. These missiles killed many priests and worshippers in the temple and even at the altar itself because, writes Josephus, “despite war, the sacrifices went on.” They came “from all over the earth,” says Josephus, because they deemed the temple and the city to be holy. Revelation 16:19-21 speaks of hailstones falling out of heaven, with each stone weighing about 100 pounds. The Roman boulders, being white in color, would have resembled giant hailstones falling from the sky.[7]

In the end, after months of failed attempts, the Romans at last succeeded in penetrating the final wall surrounding Jerusalem. Records Josephus (William Whiston [2], 2009), “A false prophet was the occasion of the people’s destruction, who had made a public proclamation in the city that very day, that God commanded them to get upon the temple, and that there they should receive miraculous signs of their deliverance.” Another remarkable event occurred, says Tacitus: “In the sky appeared a vision of armies in conflict, of glittering armour. A sudden lightening flash from the clouds lit up the Temple. The doors of the holy place abruptly opened, a superhuman voice was heard to declare that the gods were leaving it, and in the same instant came the rushing tumult of their departure.”


[1] Philip Mauro, in his 1921 publication, “The Seventy Weeks and the Great Tribulation” (pages 53-63) makes a fascinating and compelling case for Herod being the king spoken of in Daniel 11:36-45, i.e. the same Herod who killed all the male children in Bethlehem and the surrounding region in an effort to destroy Jesus (cf. Daniel 11:37a, 44). This publication can be viewed in its entirety here: http://www.preteristarchive.com/Books/pdf/1921_mauro_seventyweeks.pdf.

[2] In order for this prophecy to remain unfulfilled, i.e. awaiting a future fulfillment as Futurists say, it must be demonstrated that ethnic Jews are still God’s holy people. This is, in fact, a common premise of Dispensationalism. The New Testament, however, identifies the Church as God’s holy people (e.g. I Peter 2:4-10) and unbelieving Jews (and, by implication, unbelieving Gentiles also) by such unsavory titles as the synagogue of Satan (e.g. Revelation 2:9, 3:9).

[3] The abolishing of the daily sacrifices took place only 10 days prior to the sacrifice of the pig, on 15 Chislev 167 BC, according to I Maccabees 1:54-60 and 4:52. See Daniel 8:11 and Daniel 12:11.

[4] Philip Mauro, anticipating the trouble many would have assigning Daniel 12:2 to the past, makes this observation: “The words ‘and many that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake,’ etc. are commonly taken as referring to the bodily resurrection of the dead, and this is one reason why the entire passage is frequently relegated to the future. But there is nothing said here about either death or resurrection.” He goes on to point out that such language was commonly used in Scripture to denote a spiritual awakening (e.g. Isaiah 9:2, 29:10; Matthew 4:14-16; and especially John 5:25 and Ephesians 5:14). Not all who would be awakened would be saved, reminiscent of Christ speaking of those who would and wouldn’t receive Him (cf. John 3:16, 18, 36). The turning of many to righteousness and the running to and fro (Daniel 12:3-4), says Mauro, speaks of the rapid spread of the gospel in the time of the apostles and the early Church.

[5] In view of the wording in Daniel 12:11, notes Mauro, it could appear that these events happened in the reverse order. That is, Daniel seems to suggest that the offering is taken away at the beginning of the 1290 days, and the abomination of desolation is set up at the end of those days. Historically speaking, and by comparing Luke 21:20 with Matthew 24:15, the desolation of Jerusalem occurred in late 66 AD when the Roman armies first surrounded her, precisely 43 months (or 1290 days) before the daily offering was taken away. That these events appear to be reversed is not an issue, says Mauro, quoting from the 19th century scholar James Farquharson who said regarding this verse that “there is nothing whatever in the verbs of the sentence to indicate which of the events should precede the other; the interval of time between them only is expressed.”

[6] The historical dates used by John Denton are based on The Complete Works of Josephus (Kregel Publications: Grand Rapids (Michigan), 1981).

[7] Preterists have taken some flak for suggesting that this historic event fulfilled the prophecy of one-hundred pound hailstones, because this would mean a non-literal fulfillment. Gary DeMar (2008) responds, “Benware and other dispensationalists claim that the only way Revelation can be interpreted is literally. Let’s put their standard to the test. “The third angel sounded, and a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of waters” (Rev. 8:10). If one star hits the earth, the earth will be vaporized in an instant. In fact, if a star gets even close to the earth, the earth is going to burn up before it hits. Then there’s Revelation 8:12: “Then the fourth angel sounded, and a third of the sun and a third of the moon and a third of the stars were smitten, so that a third of them might be darkened and the day might not shine for a third of it, and the night in the same way.” How can a “third of the sun” be smitten without catastrophic results on the whole earth and not just a third of it? All of this language is drawn from the Old Testament and only has meaning as it is interpreted in light of its Old Testament context—the judgment and destruction of nations (Isa. 14:12; Jer. 9:12–16). To ignore how a passage is used in the Old Testament is like trying to interpret Egyptian hieroglyphics without the Rosetta Stone.”

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PP14: Abomination of Desolation


This is now the fourteenth post in our series on “A Partial-Preterist Perspective on the Destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.” This is the same title as a term paper I recently submitted to Northwestern College. All the previous posts can be found here, and it’s recommended that they be read in order before reading this post:

[1] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/brief-explanation-of-partial-preterism/
[2] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/pp2-references/
[3] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/pp3-external-evidence-for-an-early-date-revelation/
[4] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/pp4-internal-evidence-for-an-early-date-revelation-part-1/
[5] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/pp5-internal-evidence-for-an-early-date-revelation-part-2/
[6] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/pp6-internal-evidence-for-an-early-date-revelation-part-3/
[7] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/pp7-internal-evidence-for-an-early-date-revelation-part-4/
[8] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/pp8-daniels-70-week-prophecy-part-1/
[9] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/15/pp9-daniels-70-week-prophecy-part-2/
[10] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/15/pp10-jerusalems-destruction-foretold-in-the-olivet-discourse/
[11] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/15/pp11-did-jesus-come-in-70-ad-part-1/
[12] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/15/pp12-did-jesus-come-in-70-ad-part-2/
[13] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/16/pp13-signs-of-the-close-of-the-age/

This will be the last of four posts in which we are considering the words of Jesus in the Olivet Discourse related to the predicted judgment on apostate Israel in 67-70 AD.  We have already considered Christ’s non-physical return in judgment on Jerusalem in 70 AD, and His declaration that His generation would not pass away until all that He had prophesied would take place. In the previous post we  examined the signs that Jesus said would lead up to the end of the age. In this post we will speak of the abomination of desolation, as well as the great tribulation which Jesus said would find no comparison in history.

Adam Maarschalk

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III. The Abomination of Desolation

It is said by a number of futurists that, in the time of Jerusalem’s destruction, nothing occurred which may have fulfilled Christ’s prophecy of a coming abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel (8:13; 9:26-27, 11:31, 12:11). Of this, Jesus said, “when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains” (Matthew 24:15-16). A number of early church writers, however, did teach that the abomination of desolation occurred in the time period of Jerusalem’s destruction. These included Clement of Alexandria (150-215 AD), Eusebius (263-339) Athanasius (296-372), Augustine (379), Chrysostom (379), Jerome (347-420), and Remigius (437-533). Eusebius, for example, said:

…the many great sieges which were carried on against the cities of Judea, and the excessive sufferings endured by those that fled to Jerusalem itself, as to a city of perfect safety, and finally the general course of the whole war, as well as its particular occurrences in detail, and how at last the abomination of desolation, proclaimed by the prophets, stood in the very temple of God, so celebrated of old, the temple which was now awaiting its total and final destruction by fire– all these things any one that wishes may find accurately described in the history written by Josephus (Dennis [4], 2009).

Sam Storms (2006) is one contemporary pastor and author who believes that the abomination of desolation and the great tribulation are already long past. He says, “[A] careful study of [Matthew 24 and Mark 13] will reveal that ‘the abomination of desolation’ to which [Jesus] refers, as well as the ‘great tribulation,’ pertain to the events of 70 a.d.”

From Scripture it seems possible that the holy place mentioned by Jesus was not the temple, but Jerusalem, since the entire city was considered holy (Daniel 9:24, Nehemiah 11:1, Matthew 4:5, Matthew 27:53). In Daniel’s day the temple was holy, but Jesus had just pronounced it desolate (Matthew 23:38). This was the viewpoint of Chrysostom, who wrote, “For this it seems to me that the abomination of desolation means the army by which the holy city of Jerusalem was made desolate” (recorded in The Ante-Nicene Fathers). Thomas Newton, in his dissertation titled “The Prophecy of Matthew 24” written in 1753, also took this position (Todd Dennis [12], 2009):

Whatever difficulty there is in these words [in Matthew 24:15-16], it may be cleared up by the parallel place in St. Luke, ‘And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains,’-xxi – 20, 21. So that ‘the abomination of desolation’ is the Roman army, and ‘the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place’ is the Roman army besieging Jerusalem. This, saith our Saviour, is ‘the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet,’ in the ninth and eleventh chapters; and so let every one who readeth those prophecies, understand them. The Roman army is called ‘the abomination,’ for its ensigns and images, which were so to the Jews.

Other commentators roughly contemporary to Thomas Newton held to the same view, i.e. that these words of Jesus were fulfilled in 67-70 AD, also allowing that “the holy place” was not the inner temple but Jerusalem itself. These included John Wesley (1754), Adam Clarke (1837), C. H. (Charles) Spurgeon (1868), and Philip Schaff (1877). For many of these commentators, it was enough of an abomination that the Romans came into Jerusalem bearing standards, emblems, and banners with images of their gods and proclamations of the deity of their emperor.[1] B.H. Carroll (1915), in his well-known work, “An Introduction of the English Bible,” related an interesting incident which took place during the reign of Tiberius (14-37 AD). This incident sheds light on what was constituted as such an abomination at this time:

Pilate, at that time Roman Procurator, sent from Caesarea, the seaport of that country on the Mediterranean Sea, a legion of Roman soldiers and had them secretly introduced into the city and sheltered in the tower of Antonio overlooking the Temple, and these soldiers brought with them their ensigns. The Roman sign was a straight staff, capped with a metallic eagle, and right under the eagle was a graven image of Caesar. Caesar claimed to be divine. Caesar exacted divine worship, and every evening when those standards were placed, the Roman legion got down and worshiped the image of Caesar thereof, and every morning at the roll call a part of the parade was for the whole legion to prostrate themselves before that graven image and worship it. The Jews were so horrified when they saw that image and the consequent worship, they went to Pilate, who was at that time living in Caesarea, and prostrated themselves before him and said, ‘Kill us, if you will, but take that abomination of desolation out of our Holy City and from the neighborhood of our holy temple’ (pp. 263-264).

As we will see later, it’s a historical fact that thousands of believers, recalling Jesus’ words, did flee to the mountains around 67 AD. According to Remigius, they did so as the Roman army approached, even a couple years before the Romans invaded the temple itself:

[F]or on the approach of the Roman army, all the Christians in the province, warned, as ecclesiastical history tells us [referring to Eusebius], miraculously from heaven, withdrew, and passing the Jordan, took refuge in the city of Pella; and under the protection of that King Agrippa, of whom we read in the Acts of the Apostles, they continued some time.

IV. No Greater Tribulation Before Or Since

Holford writes that in the final days and hours of the siege on Jerusalem, when the temple was penetrated, many Jews inexplicably forsook the towers of the temple which they had arrogantly deemed to be impenetrable. In a panic, they “sought refuge in caverns and subterraneous passages; in which dismal retreats no less than two thousand dead bodies were afterwards found. Thus, as our Lord had predicted, did these miserable creatures, in effect, “say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the rocks, ‘Cover us’ (Luke 23:30; cf. Rev. 6:16).” Even the Roman general Titus recognized the hand of God in Israel’s destruction, for he exclaimed, “Had not God himself aided our operations, and driven the Jews from their fortresses, it would have been absolutely impossible to have taken them; for what could men, and the force of engines, have done against such towers as these?”

Josephus vindicates the words of Jesus in Matthew 24:21 (“For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.”) with his own firsthand report: “If the misfortunes of all nations, from the beginning of the world, were compared with those which befell the Jews, they would appear far less in comparison; No other city ever suffered such things, as no other generation, from the beginning of the world, was ever more fruitful in wickedness.”

This statement by Jesus is one more indication that the tribulation He spoke of is already past. For if this refers to a yet future time just prior to the Second Coming, and not 67-70 AD, why would Jesus use the phrase “and never will be”? It wouldn’t make so much sense to use the expression “and never will be” when referring to an event that brings humanity to the very end of time. Instead this phrase implies that a significant period of time would follow the great tribulation Jesus spoke of, which makes sense if it was completed by 70 AD. The final section will show in more detail how awful that tribulation was.


[1] E.g. Spurgeon said, “This portion of our Savior’s words appears to relate solely to the destruction of Jerusalem. As soon as Christ’s disciples saw ‘the abomination of desolution’, that is, the Roman ensigns, with their idolatrous emblems, ‘stand in the holy place’, they knew that the time for them to escape had arrived, and they did ‘flee to the mountains.’ The Christians in Jerusalem and the surrounding towns and villages, ‘in Judea’, availed themselves of the first opportunity for eluding the Roman armies, and fled to the mountain city of Pella, in Perea, where they were preserved from the general destruction which overthrew the Jews (Haynes, 2001).

PP8: Daniel’s 70-Week Prophecy (Part 1)


This is now the eighth part in our series on “A Partial-Preterist Perspective on the Destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.” This is the same title as a term paper I recently submitted to Northwestern College. The first segment included the Title Page, Outline, Introduction, and a brief introduction to Partial-Preterism. The second segment consisted of the References page, and the third segment was a discussion of the external evidence for an early date for the writing of the book of Revelation. These segments can be found here:

[1] Part 1: Brief introduction to partial-preterism
[2] Part 2: Reference page
[3] Part 3: External evidence of Revelation’s early date

We then turned to a discussion of the internal evidence for an early date. In Part 4 we discussed the inclusion of Jerusalem, the temple, Babylon the Great, and “a great city” in the book of Revelation. Part 5 dealt with the seven kings mentioned in Revelation 17:9-10 and the identity of the beast of the book of Revelation. Part 6 addressed Nero’s persecution of the saints and his prophesied demise.  Part 7 spoke of the worship of Nero and the worship of his image even after his death. We also saw that the language used by John strongly indicates the relevance of the entire book of Revelation to the first-century Christians who were alive when he wrote this book. These posts can be found here: [Part 4], [Part 5], [Part 6], and [Part 7].

We will now examine the 70-Week Prophecy given to Daniel through the angel Gabriel, in two parts. In this first part, we will begin to discover that the historical view did not focus on a future Antichrist, but rather the focus was Jesus the Messiah.

Adam Maarschalk

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Daniel’s 70-Week Prophecy (Part 1)

Earlier we saw that Clement’s statement regarding John’s banishment to Patmos makes it difficult to determine when he believes the book of Revelation was written. However, there is no doubt that he saw in the events of the Roman/Jewish War the fulfillment of the final week of Daniel’s 70-Week prophecy (Daniel 9:24-27). Dispensationalist Futurists hold that this final week (seven years) is still unfulfilled, and that the book of Revelation foretells the events which will take place during those seven years. Clement saw it differently:

From the captivity at Babylon, which took place in the time of Jeremiah the prophet, was fulfilled what was spoken by Daniel the prophet as follows: [Here he quotes Daniel 9:24-27 in its entirety.] …And Christ our Lord, “the Holy of Holies,” having come and fulfilled the vision and the prophecy, was anointed in His flesh by the Holy Spirit of His Father. In those “sixty and two weeks,” as the prophet said, and “in the one week,” was He Lord. The half of the week Nero held sway, and in the holy city Jerusalem placed the abomination; and in the half of the week he was taken away, and Otho, and Galba, and Vitellius [were also taken away]. And Vespasian rose to the supreme power, and destroyed Jerusalem, and desolated the holy place. And that such are the facts of the case, is clear to him that is able to understand, as the prophet said (Puritan Lad, 2008).

In his mind, Clement may or may not have tied the final week of Daniel’s 70-Week prophecy to the book of Revelation, as is often done by Dispensationalists and non-Dispensationalists alike. If he did, though, then by definition he was an advocate for Revelation’s early authorship, i.e. before 70 AD, because he clearly taught that Daniel 9:24-27 was entirely fulfilled by the end of the Roman/Jewish War. In any case, his view of Daniel 9 was certainly Preterist and, as we will see, so also was his view of Matthew 24 and other passages thought by Futurists to be unfulfilled.

It can be noted that nowhere in the book of Revelation is a 7-year period indicated, but a period of 3.5 years can be seen. The basis for a future 7-year Tribulation period within Dispensational thought is taken only from Daniel’s 70-Weeks prophecy in Daniel 9:24-27.  Sam Storms (2006) speaks of the importance of this passage to Dispensationalist and Futurist theology when he says, “One could conceivably make an argument that apart from the dispensational interpretation of Daniel 9, these and related prophetic doctrines would lack substantial biblical sanction.”

The final week (i.e. seven years) will be initiated, Dispensationalists say, when the Antichrist makes a covenant with Israel. This is the current popular interpretation of verse 27, which states: “And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering…”). For this to happen, we are also told, the Jerusalem temple must be rebuilt and the sacrifices and offerings resumed. John Hagee, Benny Hinn, and others are willing to raise millions of dollars to see this happen, despite the blasphemous nature of such a venture in light of Christ’s work on the cross and also what happened in 70 AD.

This viewpoint does not appear to be the historic one. A number of the early church writers (like Clement) and also some of the reformers, in fact, did not see the “he” of verse 27 as referring to the Antichrist, but they insisted that this was a reference to Jesus. The covenant in view, then, was the New Covenant, made with many (Matthew 26:28, Mark 10:45, Mark 14:24). The first half of the final week was fulfilled in Jesus’ 3.5 year earthly ministry. The “end to sacrifice and offering” was achieved by Christ’s work on the cross, which was the ultimate sacrifice. Philip Mauro, a brilliant lawyer who spent years on the bar of the US Supreme Court, spoke of the centrality of Christ’s work on the cross in Daniel’s 70-Weeks prophecy in his 1921 book, The Seventy Weeks and the Great Tribulation:

No one will dispute that, when Christ suffered and died on the Cross, thus offering “one sacrifice for sins forever,” he then and there caused the sacrifice, and oblations of the law to cease as a divine appointment… Neither can there be any question that the removal of those sacrifices (which could never take away sins) was a great thing in the eyes of God, a thing so great and well-pleasing to Him, to warrant its having a prominent place in this grand Messianic prophecy. In proof of this important point we direct the attention of our readers to Hebrews, chapters 8, 9 and 10… The great subject of this part of Hebrews, as of the prophecy of the Seventy Weeks, is the Cross… And when we find, both in the prophecy (Daniel 9:27) and in Hebrews 10, that this setting aside of the sacrifices of the law is connected directly with the confirming of the New Covenant, we are compelled to conclude that the passage in Hebrews is the inspired record of the fulfillment of this Prophecy… This gives to the last week of the seventy the importance it should have, and which the prophecy as a whole demands, seeing that all the predictions of verse 24 depend upon the events of that last week. On the other hand, to make this last Week refer to a paltry bargain between Antichrist (or a supposed Roman prince) and some apostate Jews of the future, for the renewal (and that for a space of only seven years) of those sacrifices which God has long ago abolished forever, is to intrude into this great scripture a matter of trifling importance, utterly foreign to the subject in hand and to bring the entire prophecy to an absurdly lame and impotent conclusion (pages 30-32, emphasis added; Todd Dennis [21], 2009).

Ralph Woodrow in 1971 pointed out the significance of Christ’s ministry being 3.5 years long, in relation to the prophecy in Daniel 9:27a (Todd Dennis [22], 2009). He notes that Augustine and Eusebius recognized that Daniel had defined the exact length of Christ’s ministry, with Eusebius saying, “Now the whole period of our Saviour’s teaching and working of miracles is said to have been three-and-a-half years, which is half a week. John the evangelist, in his Gospel makes this clear to the attentive [by the mention of four Passovers during His ministry; John 2:13, 5:1, 6:4, 13:1].”

Understanding this, we can now see real significance in certain New Testament statements which also speak of a definite established time at which Jesus would die. For example, we read: “They sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come” (John 7:30). In John 2:4, Jesus said, “Mine hour is not yet come.” On another occasion, he said, “My time is not yet come” (John 7:6). Then just prior to his betrayal and death, he said, “My time is at hand” (Mt. 26:18), and finally, ‘”the hour is come” (John 17:1; Mt. 26:45).

These and other verses clearly show that there was a definite time in the plan of God when Jesus would die. He came to fulfill the scriptures, and there is only one Old Testament scripture which predicted the time of his death—the prophecy which stated that Messiah would be cut off in the midst of the 70th week—at the close of three and a half years of ministry! How perfectly the prophecy was fulfilled in Christ!

But those who say that the confirming of the covenant and causing sacrifices to cease in the midst of the 70th week refers to a future Antichrist, completely destroy this beautiful fulfillment and are at a complete loss to show where in the Old Testament the time of our Lord’s death was predicted.

The prophecy of Daniel 9 stated that Messiah would confirm the covenant (or would cause the covenant to prevail) with many of Daniel’s people for the “week” or seven years. We ask then, when Christ came, was his ministry directed in a special way to Daniel’s people —to “Israel ” (Dan. 9:20)? Yes!

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A good article on the subject of Daniel’s 70th Week, which I didn’t reference here, is this one by Peter Cohen of Messianic Good News. Cohen focuses on how this prophecy concerned Christ’s incarnational ministry and work on the cross during His first coming, and notes the implications of saying that what Daniel prophesied will yet be fulfilled through some means other than the cross.

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A chiasm is a literary structure long recognized as a way to emphasize ideas or concepts by placing them into a symmetric pattern, as they are recorded in a given literary work. Where they appear in the Bible, some have referred to them as the “fingerprints of God.” The chiastic structure of Daniel 9:25-27 is very interesting, as it makes clear that the Messiah is the “he” who confirms the covenant. William H. Shea, a historicist,  notes the following chiasm in Frank Holbrook’s work*, “The Seventy Weeks, Leviticus, and the Nature of Prophecy“:

Another helpful chiasm of this same passage, including verse 24, can be seen here. It is shown as follows:

Daniel 9:24-27

24 ” 7.) Seventy weeks are determined For your people and for your holy city,
6.) To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness,
5.) To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy.
25 4.) “Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem
3.) Until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks;
2.) The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times.
26 1.) “And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself;
2.) And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.
3.) The end of it shall be with a flood,
4.) And till the end of the war desolations are determined.
27 5.) Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.
6.) And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate,
7.) Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate.”

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RED –         The center of the chiasm , the apex of eternity , the cross.
GREEN –   Above – God uses gentiles (Cyrus) to liberate nation for rebuilding city
Below – God uses gentiles (Romans) to decimate nation and destroy city
VIOLET – Above – Announces arrival of Messiah in Blessing
Below – Announces departure of Messiah in Judgment
BLUE –     Above – Restoration commanded by God through man
Below – Desolation Determined by God through Messiah
PINK –      Above- Anoint the High Priest who would be the sacrifice and offering.
Below – End sacrifice and offering
ORANGE – Above – Christ brings in everlasting righteousness and reconciliation
Below – Christ makes the city of the abominable unrighteous, desolate.
DARK RED – Above- 70 weeks of years determined for rebuilding and life
Below – The consummation of judgments determined for rejection.

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In the following post, we will consider whether or not there was meant to be any gap at all between the 69th and 70th weeks in Daniel’s prophecy.

All parts belonging to this term paper on the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD can be found here.
*William H. Shea, “The Prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27”, in Holbrook, Frank. ed., The Seventy Weeks, Leviticus, and the Nature of Prophecy, 1986, Daniel and Revelation Committee Series, Vol. 3, Review and Herald Publishing Association; shown on Wikipedia in the following entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/70_weeks_prophecy